Monogamous by Orientation
The final blog in defense of monogamy for people who do not want to try CNM.
Posted Mar 13, 2020 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
This is the fourth and final blog in a series explaining how consensual non-monogamy (CNM) does not work for everyone, retroactively titled In Defense of Monogamy. The first blog explained how CNM is not a good choice as a method to fix a relationship that is broken. The second blog provides four tips for heteroflexible couples who are considering opening their relationships, and the third gives three reasons why consensual non-monogamy will not work for people who are monogamous. This fourth and final blog in the series explains how some people are so deeply monogamous that it is a sexual and relationship orientation for them.
Monogamous by Orientation
While I have been researching polyamory for 25 years and usually base my posts on those data, the material for this post comes from case studies in my relationship coaching practice. Prior to serving as a relationship coach, I had primarily considered the polyamorous side of the multiple-lover-orientation question because a significant minority of my polyamorous respondents frequently characterized their desire for multiple partners as “hard-wired” or “innate.” It was not until I began to see repeated social and sexual patterns across coaching clients that I fully understood the depth to which some people are inherently monogamous.
It is important to note that these folks are seeking coaching because of their relationship problems, so they may not be characteristic of people in relationships with fewer or less intense problems, or those whose problems are so bad that they do not or cannot seek outside assistance.
Pair-bonding can be incredibly strong, especially when the couple is a good fit for each other and one or both people are innately monogamous. Monogamous, pair-bonded folks with a beloved mate can be deeply invested in partnership (and children if present). This frequently translates to people who love to hang out together at home or out doing activities with their beloveds. These folks often socialize as a couple/family with few or no independent hobbies and do not often seek a lot of outside social contact.
For some, this means that they don’t need a lot of friends because they tend to get all of their needs for emotional intimacy met in their relationship with their partner. In other words, people who are monogamous by orientation tend to be so satisfied with lots of contact with their beloved that they do not have a lot of social needs left over to be met by friends. They might be homebodies, focused on hanging out at home with the family in a comfy and loving nest, or they might be social butterflies who are always out together — but hardly ever solo unless dictated by circumstances.
Once they are pair-bonded, people who are monogamous by orientation have no problem whatsoever remaining sexually exclusive with their partners. Some of these monogamous folks were virgins when they married and have only ever had sex with their spouse. Others played the field before settling down and becoming monogamous. Either way, these deeply monogamous folks not only agree to sexual exclusivity with their partners, they actually follow through with it for decades. They simply do not hunger for other partners.
Generally, a person who is monogamous by orientation does not really notice other people as attractive. In much the same way that a vegetarian barely registers the meat entrees on the menu, monogamous folks are just not on the level of noticing others’ attractiveness. They literally only have eyes for their partner. While they can recognize when someone is conventionally attractive, that attraction does not translate any further than an abstract idea.
Sometimes even the abstract idea of others is simply not interesting, and some deeply monogamous folks are not interested in pornography or even thinking about others when they masturbate. For these folks, all of their lustiness — every drop of desire — is poured into their relationship with their mate. They do not have other partners, even in fantasy.
In summary, some people are inherently monogamous and will never be happy in non-monogamous relationships. Just like a lesbian trying to pretend to be in love with her husband but secretly wishing she was with that gal from the gym, a monogamous person squashed awkwardly into a non-monogamous relationship is going to have continual discomfort at the poor fit.
In some very rare cases, people can manage mono/poly or poly/mono relationships in which one person remains monogamous (even though they have the option to have outside partners, they do not want them) and the other partner has negotiated access to additional partners. These relationships can be difficult to establish and tricky to maintain and seem to only work well if the monogamous person feels very well-loved and that their needs are being well-met in the relationship. When the monogamous person feels exploited, then that relationship is bound for significant difficulties.
If someone is monogamous by orientation and is certain that they do not want CNM of any sort — including mono/poly — then others should accept that and refrain from badgering the monogamous person to try CNM. Instead, trust that monogamous people know themselves and should not be harassed into attempting a relationship style they already know will be a disaster for them.